Reynolds Home Field Advantage Inc. faces a daunting task in a sluggish economy to raise $6 million to $7 million to build a stadium on Northwest Boulevard for Reynolds High School, two fundraising experts say.
“It is a tough environment for raising money,” said Michelle Cook, Winston-Salem State University’s vice chancellor for advancement, when asked about the group’s goal. Cook is also executive director of WSSU Foundation Inc., which raises money from private donors.
“If the people behind Reynolds stadium have a strong alumni base and strong support base, it is possible (to raise the money),” Cook said.
The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education voted 6-3 on Nov. 27 to approve a proposal to build a stadium for Reynolds High School next to Wiley Middle School. That action allowed Reynolds Home Field Advantage to begin raising money for the project.
Under the plan, the gym at Wiley will be torn down and rebuilt at a different site. The plan also includes a practice field for Reynolds near the new stadium.
Critics say the stadium would bring more traffic, noise and cluttered parking in nearby neighborhoods and will damage the atmosphere of nearby Hanes Park.
The Winston-Salem City Council voted 7-1 on Dec. 3 to approve an amendment to its land-use policy that requires stadiums at urban schools to have one parking space for every four stadium seats.
The planned 2,200-seat stadium for Reynolds High would meet that requirement, a city planning official has said.
Kathryn Spanos, the president of Reynolds Home Field Advantage, said recently that her group is planning several fundraising events, but she declined to reveal how much money the organization has raised.
“We are well on our way,” Spanos said. “We have had a very enthusiastic response from many alumni.”
Several alumni are willing to help in the fundraising effort “with their time, talents and financial support,” Spanos said.
Reynolds Home Field Advantage has established a fund at the Winston-Salem Foundation Inc. to which donors can contribute money for the project, Spanos said.
It is called R.J. Reynolds High School Stadium Fund, said Cici Fulton, the foundation’s director of marketing. Fulton declined to say how much money has been contributed.
Spanos also said that her group will sell the naming rights to the stadium. She said the group hopes to raise the money in a year.
Cook said she was unsure whether the group can raise the necessary funds in a year.
“People support their passions,” Cook said. “The (stadium) advocates need to step forward and support it with their dollars.”
Howard Gottlieb, president of Easy Fundraising Ideas of Mansfield, Texas, said fundraising for the Reynolds stadium will be difficult. His company helps with fundraising programs for 10,000 businesses, schools and organizations, including about 900 high schools across the country.
“It seems like an ambitious project to me,” Gottlieb said.
Reynolds fundraisers must overcome the lack of public money to build the stadium, Gottlieb said.
Earlier this year, school officials asked the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners to put a $223.7 million bond referendum on the November ballot. The commissioners refused their request in June.
The bond package included $3 million to replace Wiley Middle School’s gym and cover other renovations if Reynolds boosters raised enough money to build the stadium.
Darryl Walker, an assistant superintendent for operations, said last week that stadium supporters will have to raise that $3 million and additional money for the project.
Without the public-seed money, “they will have a very difficult time raising money from high school alumni unless there are wealthy individuals among the alumni,” Gottlieb said.
“It is one thing to be a loyal alumnus. It is another thing to write a check,” he said.
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